TRADE POLICY REVIEW:
Concluding remarks by the Chairperson
- Trade Policy Review: Guyana
The fourth Trade Policy Review of Guyana has provided us with a good opportunity to understand the trade and related policies of Guyana since its last Review in 2015 and acknowledge the challenges it faces. The review has benefitted from the constructive and informative participation of Guyana's delegation, headed by the Honourable Mr. Deodat Indar, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, from the insightful comments of the discussant, H.E. Ambassador Usha Chandnee Dwarka‑Canabady, Permanent Representative of Mauritius to the WTO, and from the 20 delegations that took the floor during this meeting.
Members appreciated that Guyana's real GDP grew steadily between 2016 and 2019 and, as Guyana is now able to tap into its petroleum wealth, it has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Members commended Guyana's monetary and fiscal policies and efforts to diversify its economy, develop its infrastructure, and add value to its exports. Members were interested in understanding better the effects of Guyana's large offshore oil resources on the domestic economy. Guyana was encouraged to invest revenue from the oil and gas sector into healthcare, education, key economic sectors, and infrastructure. Some Members supported Guyana's efforts towards good governance and inclusive and sustainable development. They commended its adoption of a strategy to develop low-carbon resources and environmentally friendly economic policies, and encouraged Guyana to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels progressively. Members recognized challenges Guyana faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hoped that its macroeconomic stability and projected growth would result in an improvement in employment and well-being of its population.
Members applauded Guyana's active participation in, and contribution to, the work of the multilateral trading system, including fisheries subsidies negotiations, agriculture, initiatives on gender equality and women's empowerment, as well as micro-, small- and medium sized enterprises. They noted Guyana's advocacy for special and differential treatment for small and vulnerable economies in the ongoing negotiations. Members welcomed that Guyana adopted a number of trade facilitation measures. They appreciated Guyana's submission of its Category A, B, and C commitments and ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and noted that Guyana has implemented about 83% of the Agreement. Guyana was urged to submit to the WTO outstanding notifications, such as those on customs valuation, import licensing, subsidies and state trading. Some Members invited Guyana to communicate its technical assistance needs to other Members. Guyana was also encouraged to consider participating in various WTO initiatives, including the Information Technology Agreement, the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structural Discussions, and Joint Initiatives concerning, for example, services domestic regulation, E‑commerce, investment facilitation for development, and trade and sustainability, as well as the General Council decision on transparency.
Members recognized Guyana's efforts in regional trade agreements, such as those under CARICOM, for integration in the region and into the global economy.
Members encouraged Guyana to pursue a more business-friendly regulatory and investment environment, and commended its efforts so far. They noted Guyana's recent initiatives to facilitate trade and investment, such as the announcement to implement an electronic single window system, and the temporary reduction in 2022 of tariffs, excise taxes and value-added taxes on imports. Members noted that Guyana had eliminated some differential treatment between locally produced goods and imports; and regretted that new issues arose later on. Some Members wondered how the framework of the recently adopted local content policy might affect existing joint ventures and create additional barriers to foreign investment.
Guyana was urged to rectify a longstanding situation where some applied tariff rates exceeded their corresponding bound rates. Members considered that increased transparency is required in government procurement. Members were interested in Guyana's new copyright legislation and its plans to modernize intellectual property laws.
Guyana's commitment to combatting illegal logging and strengthening forest governance was highlighted. Members encouraged Guyana to take further regulatory reforms in its services sectors, including tourism. The hope was expressed that Guyana would improve its commitments to financial services and telecommunications based on the discussions in the GATS extension negotiations.
These are some of the key issues that emerged from our discussion. I hope that the delegation of Guyana will consider and further reflect on these issues and on the many constructive comments that it has received during this Review. Guyana received 162 written questions from 10 Members, and has already responded to the majority of them. Members look forward to receiving written answers to any outstanding or follow-up questions within a month, at which point the Review will be successfully concluded.